Like all Americans, I was in shock as I watched the video of Walter Scott being shot eight times in the back. Beyond the horror of the facts, we were left to wonder how many times Scott would have been shot if the officer’s gun had held more bullets. I also wonder if we would be talking about this at all if a passerby had not recorded the events. How many people of color—especially African-American men—are gunned down in equally unjustified ways without anyone ever knowing or noticing?
Since the events of September 11, 2001, the media, military, and politicians have exploited our fearfulness. It has caused us to shrug off the tens of thousands of innocent people killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of making us feel more secure. We have accepted the loss of civil liberties as necessary to FEEL more secure. We have built, funded, and filled the largest, most aggressive system of imprisoning citizens in the modern world because it feeds the illusion of security.
Helen Keller is credited with saying:
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
The trouble is, by creating systems based on this superstition, people like Walter Scott are shot down because we hire and train a paramilitary force to give us the illusion of security. Other Western countries are much safer, and their police forces are much less violent. This week there will be more shootings in America than the entire nation of Great Britain will have this year. Why?
The only antidote I know to fear is faith. We who trust God’s eternal promise should not be so afraid. We should not participate so fully in the superstition of security. We should trust our lives to a Higher Power … or perhaps we should stop calling ourselves “Christian” because it simply isn’t true … except for one hour on Sundays
This violence will not change until we do.